2010 Comique Revolution Blanc

Another offering from our friends at the Central Coast Wine Warehouse this one seems similar to the Emergence White that was on the shelves last year. A quick look shows they are the same four grapes though this one is labeled as Central Coast (instead of Paso Robles). Will the results be any different? Let us see…

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2010 Comique Revolution BlancPer Trader Joe’s “Comique Révolution Blanc is a California Central Coast blend of Rhône varietals like Roussanne, Viognier, Grenache Blanc and Marsanne. Aromas of apple blossom, juniper berry and honeydew prepare your palate for the essences of white peaches and custard. It’s revolutionary in its versatility, too.”

What I Think:

(14.2%) A blend of Roussanne, Viognier, Grenache Blanc and Marsanne this one gets better as it warms. Apple blossom, musk melon and honeysuckle greet you on the nose. The palate is rich with overripe peaches and white pear flavors before turning tart (grapefruit/lemon) with a mineral edge. The oily texture lasts throughout the short, spiced (and slightly hot) finish. Make sure to let this one get all the way to room temperature to let it show its wares. Even still this comes up a bit short for me as it seems flabby (could use more acidity IMHO) and the alcohol is dialed a little high. Very similar to my take on the Emergence White mentioned above. That said at $5 if this sounds like it might be up your alley give it a shot…

Rating: 12th Bottle

2009 Lazy Bones Cabernet Franc

I headed out to Trader Joe’s last week in search of a few wines. joshiemac told me this one was available and I had my eye out for some others. I thought I’d give the Robert Stemmler a try, received a tip on the Henry’s Drive Shiraz and and having heard good things was on the lookout for the Trader Joe’s Garnacha. The Henry’s Drive was not to be found. Oddly enough (see “Lazy Bones” picture) the Robert Stemmler label threw me off as I remembered it being more classic. After looking around it seems not to have changed though my thought process may have. If I am going to drop $20 on a Pinot there are lots of option out there including this Belle Glos which I have previously enjoyed and comes highly recommended by The Wellesley Wine Press. The Garnacha? Found it but decided to grab a bottle from K&L Wines that I had been wanting to try. Anyhow enough of the chitter chatter. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

2009 Lazy Bones Cabernet FrancPrice: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the bottle “I don’t care if you call me Lazy Bones, I love to lounge away the day alone. Why mix with others when being myself is so beautiful? When the day’s at my pace, I can relish small pleasures like ripe cherries, spiced blackberries, the aromas of sweet wood and fresh herbs. Afterall, there’s no shame in putting off today what can truly wait ‘till tomorrow.”

What I Think:

Rarely have I felt so poorly about my decision making as typing in the “What They Said” above already knowing how bad this one was. Sadly, given this was an offering from the Central Coast Wine Warehouse, who I (use to?) trust and as I was coming off the recent success of the Roustabout (which no one, myself included, can now seem to find) I had high hopes for this one.

This one doesn’t go wrong on the nose which shows underripe blueberry and stone notes. Nor on the initial entry which comes off as light and juicy on the palate. But from there it spirals… By the time this one makes it to the middle of the tongue it feels as if an oak barrel has transformed into a WWF wrestler and has you locked in the Iron Shiek’s sleeper hold. There is no acidity or tag team partner to save you and no matter how many times you tap the mat the wood flavors keep on choking you and choking you. I don’t pour much wine down the drain but this left me no choice. Easily the worst offering I’ve had from the Central Coast Wine Warehouse folks. Pick up anything else on the Trader Joe’s wine shelves priced at $7 and you will be better off…

Rating: Avoid It

Despite this I still do love me some Cabernet Franc. I wonder if Trader Joe’s still carries the Santa Ynez Cab Franc (I know they have the Gewurzt); if so perhaps I’ll grab a bottle soon. How about you? Anyone have a favorite Cab Franc under the $12 price range to share? If so would love to hear about it…

2007 Roustabout Meritage

2007 Roustabout MeritagePrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the bottle “With silky tannins and exceptional texture, this wine opens with notes of black cherries, wild blueberries and cigar box, finishing with nuances of dark chocolate and espresso. Serve with food made by your own hand. Decant for up to an hour.”

What I Think:

Yet another find from the folks over at the Central Coast Wine Warehouse. Looking at the blend percentage I once again start dreaming of a follow-up to the Franc Merlot. Could it deliver on that potential? Let’s check the notes…

(14%) 56% Cabernet Franc, 26% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Petite Verdot, 2% Malbec – Dark purple in color with brown sugar, blackberry fruit and spice on the nose. This one starts smooth with juicy blueberry flavors and silky tannins. Towards the middle the fruit turns jammy and slightly sweet before starting to dry out with nice cedar notes. The finish shows sweet tobacco and dry, tangy tannins. A true successor (or as close as we can hope for) to the aforementioned Franc Merlot. This one is nice, warm and comforting. A wine well suited for a winter evening. I’m so close to loving this one… Just a bit more acidity to see this through on the finish and I am buying by the case. Despite that I’ll still be grabbing a few more on my next visit as this is a enjoyable wine for the price.

Rating: Buy It

*a quick footnote here that this is a review of the ’07. It looks like the ’08 may be available in some areas as well. I have yet to try that vintage. If you have let us know what you think!

2009 Trader Joe’s Petite Verdot Reserve

2009 Trader Joe's Petit Verdot ReservePrice: $9.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the bottle not a thing. Even more surprisingly given the label I was astonished to learn this one was made by the folks at Central Coast Wine Warehouse whom regualar readers will recognize as one of my favorite producers in the Trader Joe’s wine aisle. That said everyone appears to be keeping tight lips on this offering. The best I was able to find is that the 2006 (and I believe the ’07) were grown and bottled by Ancient Peaks Winery, whose Petite Verdot retails for over $30. Was the 2009 as well? If anyone out there has any information to share please send it my way…

What I Think:

This came highly recommended from a few of my Trader Joe’s insiders (Angela and Matt) so you know I had to give it a try. This one starts rich, plush and velvety with blackberry fruit before grippy tannins emerge and intermingle with peppery spices that last through a lingering finish that dries your mouth straight to a pucker. I like it! Reminds me that I need to be drinking more of this varietal. Given the price point this is a great first bottle to explore but I’m thinking I want to expand my Petite Verdot horizons with my next purchase. Perhaps revisiting this Urbano Cellars I enjoyed late last year would be prudent. How about you all out there? Any favorite Petite Verdot’s to point me in the direction of?

Rating: Pricey

2009 Emergence White

2009 Emergence WhitePrice: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the bottle “In the soil of Paso Robles this traditional cuvee reaches a new elevation. Classic in style with bright acidity, prevalent minerality and rich, round midpalate, Emergence possesses a bouquet of red grapefruit zest, ripe melon, muddled lime and warmed marzipan. This precocious wine pairs easily with vegetable Marsala burgers, grilled chicken sausages or Pad Prik King.”

What I Think:

This one is a blend of 33% Grenache Blanc, 29% Marsanne, 25% Viognier and 13% Roussanne. Certainly a mix of white grapes from off the beaten path. That said the bottle calls this a “traditional cuvee”. Really? Where? Now the wine world is big and I could very well be sticking my foot in my mouth but I’m calling BS here. All that aside this one is made by the folks over at Central Coast Wine Warehouse who have delivered their fair share of winners. That said I tried the red and while it delivered for the price point it didn’t do much more. So how about the white? This one started with dissenting opinions from two trusted palates. Danny on the downside found it bland and CabFrancophile found it to be exciting. Staring at the 14.5% ABV I was curious as to what my take would be.

You are greeted with a big, rich floral blast on the nose. On the palate this one is viscous, almost sweet, with flavors of peaches and cantaloupe before a nice acidity (though I would prefer more) emerges to keep this one in balance. The finish is mineral driven, though slightly hot (14.5%), and pleasant. For me this one is made for food as it doesn’t have the crispness or acidity to meet my refreshment criteria. That said I’m still a fan. I’ll grab another bottle and see if I can’t figure out a good pairing for this one. Stay tuned!

Rating: Buy It

2009 Winnefred Chardonnay

2009 Winnefred ChardonnayPrice: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer “Winnefred is 100% Chardonnay aged in 82% French oak and 18% sur-lie (on lees), giving it added complexity and creaminess. It’s a citrus-forward wine with pear, lemon and a hint of fennel. Winnefred, like Winnefred, makes an excellent dinner companion. Try it with chicken or whatever suits your fancy.”

What I Think:

As mentioned recently I can identify the new offerings of the Central Coast Wine Services team before picking them up. This one was a no doubter with a fanciful label and story (Winnefred is a competitive pizza eating champion) to boot. Given their track record I had to give it a try despite my disposition to Chardonnay as a varietal. Would I live to regret it?

In a word no, there was nothing to regret. Literally nothing. This was one of the most flavorless wines I’ve had. The nose was muted with a bit of pear and peach coming through. The palate was oily with thin lemon flavors leading to a short toasty finish with cinnamon spice. It isn’t that this wine was undrinkable it was just soulless. If you have to have a Chardonnay in this price range I’d stick to the Santa Barbara Landing. How about you? What is your favorite value Chardonnay?

Rating: Skip It

2009 Pancake Cellars Big Day White

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2009 Pancake Cellars Big Day WhiteAnother in the series of wines made by the ultra secretive Central Coast Wine Services team. It appears this is primarily a warehouse wine making facility where wines such as Hitching Post Pinot are made. Obviously in their spare time though they are making some juice of their own (and not telling the world about it).

What I Think:

It was funny that I came across this cork’d article that discussed labels as a major factor in driving purchases the day after I opened this wine. That is certainly how this one first made it into my home back in 2007. And it is not only this one; the folks behind this outfit our known for distinctive labels. So much so that I know if they have a new offering available before I even pick it up off the shelf. My personal favorite is still the Franc Merlot. But enough about the label, what about the juice?

This one is a blend of 27% Chardonnay, 24% Sauvignon Blanc, 24% Viognier, 21% Muscat Canelli and 4% Pinot Blanc. Not looking at the blend when I first opened this one on its own I found it entirely too sweet. Not what I had remembered from prior experiences. Taking that in stride I paired it with shrimp tacos and refried beans the next night and while it didn’t make me pay attention (or take a lot of notes) it came across as a simple, enjoyable (though slightly characterless) wine showing melon and floral notes throughout. I prefer a Riesling or Gewurztraminer with my spicier food but if you don’t this may be a good alternative.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2007 Dr. Jebediah Drinkwell’s Meritage

2007 Dr. Jebediah Drinkwell's MeritagePrice: $8.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

There is nothing official here. Though the front of the bottle was appealing the back was filled with lyrics I’ve chosen not to retype here. That said feel free to friend up Jebediah Drinkwell’s Meritage on Facebook.

What I Think:

This Jebediah Drinkwell comes from a rich pedigree. It’s producer, Central Coast Wine Warehouse, has been behind many great values such as the Pancake Cellars, the Caretaker Pinot and my personal favorite the Franc Merlot.

This one reminds of the Franc Merlot from the word go. The blend here is 60% Cab Franc, 27% Merlot, 11% Cab and 1% Malbec and Petite Verdot (versus 70% Cabernet Franc, 26% Merlot and 4% Petite Sirah for the Franc Merlot) . The heavy Cab Franc is evident throughout this one starting with a healthy dose of green pepper on the nose. The palate shows blackberries with a dusty chocolate component emerging which leads to a nice spicy, white pepper finish. This one drinks smoothly.

2007 Dr. Jebediah Drinkwell's MeritageThat leaves one question, is it worth $5 more than the Franc Merlot? I don’t think so. In fact, given these come from the same producer, have nearly the same blend and are labeled with successive vintages (2006 Franc Merlot and 2007 Jebediah Drinkwell) a conspiracy theorist may say this is the next vintage of that same wine with a different label at double the cost. The time they individually appeared on the shelf may debunk that theory but either way you can still feel free to buy wines from Central Coast Wine Warehouse on sight. This one makes them 4 for 4, albeit at a bit pricier than I would like…

Rating: Buy It

For a few more takes check out Trader Joe’s Wine Compendium (pro) or The Cab Franco Files (con)

2008 Caretaker Pinot Noir

 2008 Caretaker Pinot NoirPrice: $9.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Ruby in color the 2008 Caretaker delicate and floral with rose petal, raspberry and strawberry aromas. The palate is exuberant with sweet red berries that continue into a soft, earthy plum finish.”

What I Think:

Nary a word about this one to be found on the internet but that’s okay I knew that before I brought it home. You see, this one is a product of the Central Coast Wine Warehouse which appears to be a shared production facility. This is the same place that delivered the The California Wine Party Franc Merlot and the Pancake Cellars Big Day White. I’m still pretty certain the Central Coast Wine Warehouse is an operation/business that uses this facility to create the wine. But that is becoming less clear by the bottle… Here nor there, based on my history with the Franc Merlot I bought two bottles of this one on site. Seeing the listing of the  2008 Caretaker Pinot Noir
Pinot clones they used on the back label only reinforced my decision.

Shortly after bringing it in the house it is on the table. Opening it my first thought is really! A 2008 Pinot already? 7 months from the vine to my table. My initial inclinations proved right as this one came across disjointed and with little balance. I sensed the delicate, floral nature on the nose. But the palate couldn’t bring anything together. Not a bad wine, likely very young and needing some time. For now, no fruit and lots of acidity. No way I could recommend this over the Castle Rock Mendocino Pinot. I’ll let you know if the 2nd bottle changes my mind but thinking unlikely at this point…

Rating: Skip It

2007 Pancake Cellars Big Day White

2007 Pancake Cellars Big Day WhitePrice: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per corkd.com courtesy of bjwdad; “The nose has scents of pear, lychee and spice. And Gewürztraminer dominates the taste, even at only 12% of the stated blend. This wine is DELICIOUS, and one of the best whites I’ve ever experienced!! Outstanding value, to say the least.”

What I Think:

This label was hard to resist. Again the blend looked intriguing and as I grabbed the bottle to give it a read I got the idea that this was made by the same outfit behind my beloved Franc Merlot. At that point it was just a matter of resisting the urge to put more than one bottle in the cart. I am still trying to validate that these were indeed products of the same winemaker. The Pancake Cellars was made by Central Coast Wine and the Franc Merlot by the Central Coast Wine Warehouse. I was able to track down an email address from the latter and asked for confirmation. I’ll let you know what (if) I hear back.

Now for what was in the bottle. This one was a blend of 60% Sauvignon Blanc, 27% Chardonnay, 12% Gewurztraminer and 1% Pinot Blanc. On the nose it was clean, with light notes of white fruit and minerals. On the tongue it was well balanced. The sauvignon blanc leads while the chardonnay holds through the mid-palate and lingers through the finish. In the finish just a hint of the gewürztraminer sweetness shows itself, from the above review I was expecting much more. All in all, my initial inclination is that this wine isn’t all that distinguishable. That could be taken as a negative but the plus side is that this blend will pair nicely with virtually any food. I prefer the Synergy but perhaps a side by side tasting is in order. Yeah, that works. I’ll grab a bottle and check back in with a second opinion. For now this seems like a 12th bottle.

Rating: 12th Bottle